Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Barbie needs a new dress...

With two little girls in the house we have lots of naked Barbies lying around. Because I have an 8 year old son also, I do my best to keep them dressed, but it must be more fun to get Barbie undressed than dressed, because she hardly ever has any clothes on. Contemplating this dilemma one day I realized what a great way to use up some old quilt scraps! I googled free Barbie clothes patterns and Barbie clothes tutorials, but didn't have a lot of success. So I decided to add this to my blog for anyone else who might be looking for a super cute and easy dress for Barbie. My very first sewing attempts were making Barbie clothes as a little girl on my mothers machine. I'm not ready to let my girls get that close to my machine yet, but they did help me pick out some fabric.

I started with Barbie clothes we already had. I inspected them closely and drew a simple pattern for the top. The bottom is just a rectangle of fabric about 20" wide by 5"-7" long, depending how long you want Barbie's dress to be.
As you can see above, I measured her legs and decided once I add a seam, 5"-7" should be just about right.
Disregard the 7"X20" on this little pattern, I jotted that down real quick to remember the skirt size. I made this little pattern after careful inspection of a Barbie top we already had. It is about 5 1/2" long, 1 1/2 " tall on the ends, and 2 1/4 " tall at the top of the curve. I think it should be a fairly simple little pattern to make up on your own, I didn't worry about it being perfect, Barbie won't wear it for long anyway.
Fold your fabric in half wrong sides or right sides together (doesn't really matter) and cut 2 of these pieces. Then place them on top of each other, RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER, and sew around the sides and top (the curved part), leave the straight bottom side open. Turn right side out and press.

Next, sew little darts into the top so it fits Barbie's figure nicely. To do this, I wrapped the top around Barbie and marked where her boobs are. Then I folded it in half at that spot and sewed, starting from the bottom raw edge, about a 1/4" from the fold, at an angle right off the side of the top (about half way up the top). Hope the picture helps you see what I am talking about! Do it with the other boob too.

For your skirt piece, sew a little seam on the 2 sides and along the bottom of the rectangle. Then, on the edge without a seam, gather up the skirt with a long gathering stitch. My machine will gather fabric for me, if your does not, just use a long running stitch and pull the end of the thread. Gather it up till it fits the bottom raw edge of your top piece, or about 4 1/2 ".

Lay your top piece down on top of the gathered side of the skirt, right sides together (the side where you can see the dart sewing will be the WRONG side) and sew both pieces together along the raw edges.

Next you want to put a strip of velcro on the back. These dresses are super easy for my girls to take on and off because the whole back closure is just a strip of velcro.

I cut a strip of velcro in half to make it extra skinny and sewed it down each side of the back of the dress.
There it is, all finished! I could have made a hundred of these that day, if I didn't have 3 little people who also needed my attention. I ended up with 4, and it probably took me just over an hour to finish them all. Next time I want to get more creative by adding more trim, pockets and lace. I have plans to make some Pj's and aprons for Barbie too. Who knows when I will have another hour to myself to get it done, though.

The girls didn't really understand the camo dress. I guess they don't know Barbie like I do, Barbie needs a dress for every occasion!
This one was a lot of fun to make because I got to add a little trim for the sleeves and around her waist. I also added a tulle skirt over the fabric to make it extra princessey.
I think this would be a fantastic first sewing project. They sure turned out a lot better than the Barbie dresses I used to make as a little girl, basically just a long tube that was either to small or to big for Barbie. I guess I've learned a bit since then. They aren't perfect though, but with everything I make, I like it that way.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Aren't these little birdies darling!
This is what I will be working on as I spend a relaxing week in a cabin near Yellowstone.
It's been an on going project for a few months now, but my goal is to get it all stitched up so when I get back I can turn it into this beautiful quilt. It is actually a Christmas quilt (the little birdies represent the 4 birds mentioned in the song 12 days of Christmas... Partridge, turtle doves, french hens, and calling birds). I'm not using traditional Christmas colors, though. I want it up all year long! Hopefully next time you see it, it will be all finished and hanging above my staircase.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Very Colorful Day...

We found this amazing butterfly enjoying our flowers this morning. It was the perfect opportunity to teach the kids about endangered species and how we need to protect them.

Chloe's very colorful masterpiece.

My first attempt at making homemade playdough. I never considered myself the homemade playdough type of mom, but it was super easy! Much easier than running to the store with all 3 kids in tow, pushing them along through the toy isle, having to stop every few steps and hear how their little lives are so incomplete without these many wonderful toys, and then probably over spending on a bunch of other stuff I don't really need.

Homemade playdough. Here's how we did it...

1 cup flour

1 cup water

2 teaspoon cream of tarter

1 teaspoon oil

1/4 cup salt

food coloring

I had all this in my pantry, which was such a pleasant surprise. I have no idea why I had the cream of tarter, I don't think I've ever used it for anything.

Mix all the ingredients (except the food coloring) in a medium saucepan until it's smooth. Stir constantly over medium heat until it forms a ball (about 1-2 minutes).
Let the playdough cool and form it into a ball. Then cut it into equal sections (however many colors you want).

For fun I then put each section in a sandwich baggie with a few drops of food coloring and let the kids squish it up until it is all colorful.

The kids thought it was genius, magical, amazing. "Mom can MAKE playdough!"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Quilt it Yourself

Professionally machine quilted quilts are beautiful. There are definitely quilts out there that deserve a costly professional quilting job. They turn out perfect, and it is so convenient to send them to a quilter and get them back all nicely trimmed and quilted.

That being said, it has been quite a while since I sent any of my quilts out to be quilted. I've been practicing quilting them myself, and it's been really fun! I started for 2 reasons. First, money. If I wanted to continue my hobby, I needed to find a less expensive way, but I knew I couldn't give up designer fabrics! Second, it has always bothered me to have someone else's work on my project, someone else's name on my quilt. I wanted to do it all, so it could be completely mine. I am more attached to the quilts I have quilted myself. And as it turns out, I really enjoy doing it, it is actually fun and a little addicting.

Are my quilts perfect? No. Does that bother me? Not really. I am NOT a perfectionist (thank goodness, I don't know how those kinds of people get through the day), and I enjoy the process most of all. I am creative, I take risks, I try new things. If it doesn't work out, well maybe I can cut it down and turn it into a bag or something.

So here's how I do it....

Start with some scraps of fabric or small projects you don't care too much about and practice. Before I begin I usually doodle a bit on a peice of paper, just to get an idea of how I should move the quilt. With a long arm machine you are moving the machine, with this method you are moving the whole quilt. It is easier to quilt a smaller quilt. For a quilt much larger than a lap size, you might just want to think about paying that quilter after all. But it's not impossible either, it just takes practice.

Lay your three layers out on a flat surface. I use my kitchen floor. If I have tape in the house (with 3 kids I usually don't) I use it to tape down the back of the quilt all nice and straight.

You can pin your 3 three layers together (they sell large safty pins specifically for this) or baste your layers together, or you can use something like this...

I love this stuff! It works wonderfully and it washes away completely (or wears aways in a couple days on it's own). I've never noticed any guming up of my needles or added stiffness to my quilt or anything like that. It holds all the layers perfectly straight so I never worry about them shifting. I buy it at JoAnns when I have a coupon. I can do about 3-4 quilts with one can.

Fold up the top two layers and spray the wrong side of your quilt back. I spray like I would baste with stitches, long lines, back and forth. Lay your batting down on top of that and smooth it out, make sure there are no bumps or wrinkles. The glue is repositional, so you can lift it up and try again if you need to. Next, spray your batting and lay your quilt top down nice and straight. When I'm all done with the top, I turn it over and double check the back to make sure it is still all smooth and tight.

You will need to either lower your feeders or cover them. The feeders are the little teeth like things that come up and catch your fabric and move it along. You want to be able to move your quilt yourself, freely, in all directions. Before I got my nice new sewing machine I would cover my feeder with a little plastic plate that came with the machine. Or you can make your own with a piece of cardstock and tape. I've done this too, when I lost the little plate for awhile. You will also need a stippling, free motion, or darning foot. All slightly diffrent, but all will do basically the same job. Above is what mine looks like, I bought it special when I got my machine. It is specifically designed for quilts.

If you are able to set your machine in a needle down possition that really helps when you have to stop and move your quilt to a better possition. I either start in the center and work my way out or start on the side and work my way in. With the spray glue it doesn't really matter, your layers aren't going anywhere. But I do work in a spiral, that way I don't miss any spots. Start with your needle down, grab your quilt on each side of your needle and press down on the pedal. Start moving your quilt in a random all over pattern. You'll need to stop fequently and reposition your hold on the quilt, but if your set your needle in the down position first, you should be fine. It is easier to quilt faster than slower, faster you'll get a smoother line. I set my speed almost as high as it will go, but move my quilt around slower than the feeders would pull it through, if I were using them.

Below is a close up of my stitches. You can see I started off the side of the quilt and came in. You might be more comfortable starting in the middle. That's fine, do what works best for you. I find it eaiser to pull the quilt towards me when I move it around, instead of pushing it away from me.

You'll need to roll up the side of the quilt to get in to fit under the arm. That is why it is difficult to quilt a large quilt, moving it around and trying to fit it under that arm can be difficult. This quilt is a baby sized, about 45" square, and was really easy to quilt.

Below is another close up of some stitches. They are not perfect, but I think they're cute, and it only cost me a grand total of 6$ to quilt it (one spool of thread and some sharp new sewing machine needles). I got it done in about 2 hours. I worked on it little by little throughout the day. I like to quilt on my kitchen counter because it's nice and high and has plenty of space (it also forces me to clean it off and put everything away, which isn't nessesarly a bad thing).

Here it is, all finished. I still need to trim it and put the binding on it and then get it to the store by shop hop next week. I can't tell you enough that all you need is practice. My first quilts looked nothing like this, but I knew it could be done, so I kept at it. It takes a little while to get a good rhythm and to get to know your machine. Be careful when you stop to reposition, so that your needle doesn't move, it will be hard to get it back in the same spot as before. It's a little difficult to get over seams, but adjusting the pressure on your pressure foot can help (I usually set it to the lowest [lightest pressure] setting). Use your muscles to move your quilt around smoothly. I check the back of my quilt often to make sure my tension is still good and I am not getting my fabric puckered. Walk away if you get frustrated. And remember, there was a good reason seam rippers were invented. I have a love/hate relationship with mine.

Hope this helps and inspires you! There are other tutorials on the web on how to do this, but this is what works best for me. Leave me a comment if you have any questions.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Isn't this cool!

An original "P". I think this little bird will hang in a museum someday. For now I am the lucky owner. She is taped up in my kitchen, reminding me how fun it is to see the world through the eyes of a child.

Monday, June 7, 2010

My weekend project...

I've been searching for some giant polka dot fabric for awhile, but I couldn't ever find a print where the dots were big enough. I wanted BIG dots! I was so excited when I found these polka dots at one of my favorite shops, The Material Girls Quilts in South Jordan Utah. The dots are pretty big, I could have probably gone a little bigger, but maybe that would have been over the top. They had all sorts of colors, but I settled on the black with white dots and bought 2 yards.

I've made plenty of skirts for my two girls, but never one for me. I'm afraid of zippers and the size of my hips. But I wanted a big polka dot skirt so bad that I decided I could wait no longer. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought. It has an elastic waist band (no scary zipper), which wasn't my first choice, but it was also the easiest choice.

I think it turned out pretty cute. I call it my "I don't have anything to wear to church tomorrow!" skirt, because it only took me about an hour and a half to make Saturday night. I thought about taking pictures and writting up a tutorial, but gave up half way through. There are already tons of free skirt patterns on the web anyway. My favorite thing is it only cost me about 20$ to make (2 yards of fabric and elastic). It would have cost less if I could have settled for sale fabric (I hate spending 10$ a yard on fabric!!!) but when I find what I am looking for I gotta grab it up. I have a quarter of a yard left over, what do you think... matching bag or matching skirt for my little "C"?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Our baby...

Last, but not least, it's C! C is 3 years old. She is our baby girl, she'll always be our baby girl. I probably spoil her a bit, but it is my last one and they grow up so quickly.

If P is a little fairy, then C is the princess. She is sweet and kind and loves people. She has started to make some little friends who she loves to play with everyday. 7am every morning "can I go play with...?" I wish that I could say that I have one child who takes after me, but no. I guess that is not a bad thing, I was shy and quite, my kids are playful, friendly and loud. They take after their daddy, who I love more than anything, so it's good.

I think C will be our family Geneologist someday. C's favorite thing to do right now is to ask me if I want to hear a story. This is how her stories go, "Once apon a time there was a Mommy, Daddy, Me, 'P', 'I', Grandma, Grandpa, Papa, Grandma Charlotte..." and then she proceeds to name all the people she knows or has ever meet, cousins, Aunt, Uncles, EVERYONE. She is careful to get everyone's name right and makes sure she doesn't leave anyone out. It can go on for awhile. Once she has named everyone... The End! C loves people.

C is old enough to start preschool this year but I am going to keep her home. Next year she can start school, but this year I am looking forward to some quality time with me and my baby ("P" starts 1st grade and "I" will be in 3rd). I feel like this is the end of the baby years for me, one last year for strollers, nap times and sippy cups, and then she'll go to preschool and our lives will start a new chapter.

This is the last of my three greatest creations. They are what I am most proud of! I owe so much of what I have and the mother I am to my husband. Without his love and support (both emotionally and financially) I could not have this life or be the person I am. And though I am not spotlighting him, I hope he knows how important he is in our family too and how grateful I am for him in my life.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


This is P. She is my Kindergartner. Oh how I love my little P! I know a mother is not supposed to have favorites... Oh that's horrible, I don't play favorites with my children, what are you thinking! :)
P is a tiny, spunky, quick witted little 6 year old. Think of the personality of a fairy... that's P to a tee! She loves all things pretty and sparkly, she can be generous and loving, and she is in charge! Her favorite things are making others laugh, giving hugs, and correcting people.

If I had to pick a career for P when she grows up I would put her as the favorite to take over her daddy's law firm someday (she is incredibly smart) or to do something big, like starting her own zoo or saving endangered animals, she loves animals.
Yesterday as we were driving down the road to meet daddy for a lunch date, we drove by a cemetary. Two days after memorial day and it was still looking beautiful, with flowers set at every grave (I've always thought cemetaries to be some of the most beautiful places, is that weird?). As we were driving by P remarked on all the flowers, and being in a weird mood I asked her if she would put flowers on my grave when I died (we talk about death a lot, the kids always have lots of questions about it, something I never anticipated before I had kids). She assured me she would and then asked what would I do if she died first. I pretended to be totally shocked at the idea, like I had never heard such a thing before, and told her I would put flowers on her grave every day and would want her to be a ghost and haunt me every night (weird, I know, my kids love this sort of talk though, fanciful, imaginitive, strange...). Her response brought tears to my eyes and I was at a loss for words, all I could do was give her one of the great big hugs she loves so much; "Mommy, I would rather be an angel so I could hug you every morning"

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Getting to know us...

I want to spotlight each of my kids so you know who I am talking about when I tell you all their zany adventures. Today I'll start with my oldest, "I" :) "I" is 8 years old and is in the second grade. He is a ball of energy! His favorite things are riding his bike, wrestling with his friends, and playing Wii (he is the family Mario Kart champ). "I" just started cubscouts this year and is having a great time. He was also diagnosed with ADHD within the past year. We always suspected it was there but this is the first year it became a problem with school work. I don't really know if raising a boy with ADHD is extra hard, all I know is "I", but I know I like all that he is, even when he is WILD! "I" loves to have fun and he brings fun and laughter into my life too. He has a big smile and a big heart! It has been so fun raising a boy. It is so wonderful to watch this little man grow, to dream about all he will accomplish, and to have him still need and love his mama despite being caked in dirt and who knows what else. It makes it extra special somehow. A girl is expected to be loving and sweet, but when a little boy is, it is truely sincere (not that I don't LOVE my girls, you'll get an earful of them later). I encourage everyone to give raising a boy a try, you'll never feel more loved.

P.S. I know it's weird to use "I" in the third person sense as well as I for the first person. Maybe later I'll figure out a better way to do it.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My first blog, my first post!

I've started a BLOG! I read plenty of them so I thought it's about time to start my own. I hope to make this a place to share my creativity with family and friends (both real and virtual), and I'm sure my kids will make the occasional appearance too.

Just a little about myself... I am a mom of 3 beautiful children whom I will refer to from here on out as I, C, and P (to bad there is not a U, that would be funny. I'll have to remember that if I ever have a 4th kid... not likely) "I" is my 8 year old boy, "P" is my 6 year old girl and "C" is my 3 year old girl. I have been married 10 years this month to a wonderful husband. I am so grateful for all the love I have in my life!

Next to my family my second love is creating, mostly with fabric. Quilts are my favorite but I also make a bag or skirt every now and again. I have to carve out a little fabric time every day or I can get pretty cranky. I sell some of my creations on my etsy site, mostly just for the fun of it.

Well, I guess that is about it. I am sure more about me and my wild and crazy (and with 3 kids, pretty loud) life will unfold in this blog over time so... stay tuned!